Whether you have multiple locations or just one, local is fast becoming an important market online. Traditionally, the local marketing battlefield consisted of phone directory listings, billboards, newspapers, TV, radio, and anywhere else that made sense to get your name seen. The web and search engines have opened up a new local battlefield, and smart businesses are moving quickly to gain a foothold.
Surprisingly though, many businesses have failed to tap into one of the more powerful tools available for reaching the local market. If that's surprising, then what makes this amazing is that this tool is free and will become even more important as local search information continues to be blended into regular search results.
The major search engines saw the growth and importance in local search years ago and started putting tools in place to not only help searchers, but also businesses. What the search engines may have discovered was that many searchers weren't aware of these local search tools, like local.google.com and local.yahoo.com. Instead, people just searched for local things where they searched for everything else, which further helps to explain things like universal search.
What was really exciting though was that the search engines also provided businesses with a way to get listed. Yet many businesses have yet to tap into this opportunity. If this sounds like you, then there is no time to waste, and better yet, getting listed takes no time at all. The process varies by engine, but is often as simple as having a postcard sent to your business address, receiving an automated phone call at your business location, or filling out a form or email.
Go to local.google.com and click on the "Add or Edit your business: Learn more" link along the left side. If you don't have a Google Account yet, you'll need to create one. Once you've done that, you'll get access to the Local Business Center, where you can add or edit your business listing.
At listings.local.yahoo.com, you'll see that Yahoo provides different listing levels, including a basic free listing. The Basic listing is done in 4 easy steps, while the paid versions have an extra step or two.
MSN Live Search
Not as direct, you'll need to click on the Help link in the upper right corner at local.live.com, and then select the first FAQ item, "How do I add my business listing to Live Search Maps?" From there you'll get a link to an infoUSA.com form for adding or updating your information as need be.
Even Ask wants to list your local business. Even less intuitive than the others, you'll need to follow the Help link in the upper right corner at city.ask.com, then toward the bottom of the FAQs is one labeled, "I'm not finding my business in AskCity. How can I get it added?" With Ask, you'll need to send off an email with some information to Ask's Customer Service.